This report includes findings from the CA MTSS Phase 2A Pilot Project’s Year 1 of participation qualitative data collection and analysis.

This pilot project follows 14 schools from 7 districts across California as they implement the California Multi Tiered System of Support (CA MTSS) framework at the school level with a focus on school climate, positive behavioral supports, and social-emotional learning. The purpose is to shed light on California Multi-Tiered System of Support (CA MTSS) implementation processes, successes, and challenges from the schools participating in the pilot.

Schools participated in the pilot project during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. During the fall of the first year, school leadership teams, along with district and county stakeholders, attended a two-day pilot project “kick-off” centering on a school-level approach to implementing the CA MTSS framework; during summers, school staff and other stakeholders attended three-day Professional Learning Institutes (canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Each school was also assigned a coach who met with the school site leadership team weekly or biweekly to guide and support implementation during the two years of participation. Finally, participating schools received sub- grants to support their efforts.

The purpose of this report is to capture, through publicly available data; school self-assessments; and interviews and focus groups conducted by the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS) research team, the starting point for the CA MTSS pilot program school site implementation process. We present findings on the 14 participating school sites’ self-assessments of implementation level (School-wide Implementation Tool [SIT] data) and school staff-reported problems of practice, implementation strategies, and challenges (interview, focus group, and SIT data) at the start of the pilot program (Fall 2019 – Winter 2020).

The report is intended to inform both the executive team and coaches in the ongoing development of support for the pilot program’s successful implementation. This Executive Summary presents a summary of data findings regarding cross-cutting themes across the 14 participating school sites regarding CA MTSS implementation at the start of the pilot program. We also present some key recommendations for the executive team and coaches based on our findings.

Key Findings

PROBLEMS OF PRACTICE identified by many school sites centered on:

  • Developing positive school culture;
  • Developing student social-emotional competence;
  • Developing consistent and sustainable practices.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES centered on the following:

  • Utilizing CA MTSS as a framework for organizing and more fully implementing existing programs and practices;
  • Developing school identity utilizing an inclusive process;
  • Implementing and building on behavior programs and social-emotional curriculum.


  • Developing schoolwide buy-in and self-efficacy;
  • Building effective school-family connections;
  • Providing social-emotional learning and support for teachers.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Prioritize assisting in the development of strategies for the social-emotional well-being of school site staff as schools reopen.
  2. Assist in the identification and utilization of universal support strategies, including utilization of new tools for student engagement and student learning.
  3. Support school sites to utilize their data to identify and address discipline disparities apparent by race, the overidentification of students of color for special education services, and to improve school climate.
  4. Support schools in fostering opportunities for collaborative relationships with families and communities in order to elevate and encourage their voices in school decision making.
  5. Assist in the adaptation of strategies for implementation in secondary schools.